Vatican Satanic Panic

Father Gabriele Amorth, an Italian priest noted as an exorcist, has published a book-length interview entitled (in Italian) Memoirs of an Exorcist. It’s typically lurid fare, and the Italian media is of course lapping it up. Most attention has been given to Amorth’s claim that there are “Satanic cults” operating inside the Vatican, involving priests, monsignors, and cardinals. Panorama quotes him:

Anche in Vaticano ci sono membri di sette sataniche. Sono preti, monsignori e anche cardinali.

We’re also regaled with tales of paranormal phenomena – including Elvis Presley’s spirit guide:

Il sacerdote descrive inoltre case infestate di spiriti, indemoniati che «lievitano» sotto i suoi occhi, messe nere, vergini violentate, talismani e feticci che evocano presenze demoniache. Ma ricorda anche spiriti guida, come quello di Elvis Presley che ha visto trasferirsi su un pranoterapeuta, oppure anime dannate che spingono giovani adolescenti al suicidio.

Amorth is not the first priest to allege Satanism inside the Vatican – although, as with the others, actual evidence is not provided. In the 1990s Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo made the same allegation, and Amorth is described by Panorama as his friend. John Cornwall’s book Powers of Darkness, Powers of Light featured an interview with Milingo:

Now Satanism is at its strongest throughout the world. These are the years of the Devil. Black Masses, and blaspheming God, and Judas priests. Before he died Pope Paul VI knew what he had done [post-Vatican II]. He knew it! He had let Satan free within the Church. He said he could smell the stench of smoke around the sanctuary. He said the truth!

Milingo, of course, has since married a Korean member of the Unification Church and formed an alliance with Rev Sun Myung Moon to develop a schismatic church for married priests; it seems that he also now accepts Unification Church theology. Amorth explains his friend’s fall from grace as due to temptations sent by the devil.

And before Milingo, there was the late Malachi Martin. This 1990 quote has been posted widely on-line:

Most frighteningly for John Paul [II], he had come up against the irremovable presence of a malign strength in his own Vatican and in certain bishops’ chanceries. It was what knowledgeable Churchmen called the ‘superforce.’ Rumors, always difficult to verify, tied its installation to the beginning of Pope Paul VI’s reign in 1963. Indeed Paul had alluded somberly to ‘the smoke of Satan which has entered the Sanctuary’. . . an oblique reference to an enthronement ceremony by Satanists in the Vatican. Besides, the incidence of Satanic pedophilia — rites and practices — was already documented among certain bishops and priests as widely dispersed as Turin, in Italy, and South Carolina, in the United States. The cultic acts of Satanic pedophilia are considered by professionals to be the culmination of the Fallen Archangel’s rites.

This revelation just happened to coincide both with the evangelical-inspired hysteria over Satanic Ritual Abuse, and with increasing public awareness of the reality of catholic priests who were child abusers.

Amorth, Milingo, and Martin have all been moved to feverish excitement by a quote attributed to Pope Paul VI in 1972 (see here for the original; H/T this site), in which the Pope warns darkly of the “Smoke of Satan”. It seems he was referring to the failure to implement liturgical reforms; the idea that he was making an oblique reference to Satanic cults defies common sense. If the Pope believed such a thing was going on, why didn’t he do more to put an end to it? Or, if he wanted it covered up, why make his statement at all? How could such things still be going on forty years later, and still no evidence has come to light?

In 2006, Amorth purported to have discerned “the signature of the Prince of Darkness” in Harry Potter:

By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil.

Walid Shoebat Expands Internet Presence

Walid Shoebat’s website has had a make-over, and he has a new Twitter feed and Facebook page – all the better to make our flesh creep with tales of the evils of Islam, and of how the Bible predicts the rise of a Muslim anti-Christ (plus, of course, of how Obama is a secret Muslim). Shoebat’s handler, Keith Davies, explains that 

We have now engaged a full time internet person, his Name Max Gibson former IDF veteran of the Gaza campaign of 2008/2009 who also happens to be a computer science graduate and an experienced marketeer in the internet world.

In the few days he has been working on the web traffic department we have seen a big increase, we hope with all the other bells and whistles Max will be working soon  that the traffic will multiply even further.

Gibson previously helped to arrange Shoebat’s university appearances. However, he also made the news on his own account back in 2007; the Orange County Register reported:

 A young man in a turban, his face covered, marches around UC Irvine with signs saying “Death to Infidels. Death to Israel” during a week of campus demonstrations by Muslim students.

Here’s the catch: He’s not Muslim…

…Was he aware that passers-by might actually think he was a terrorist?

“Of course,” said Max Gibson, 27, a self-proclaimed Zionist who lives in San Diego and is affiliated with a college Republican group. “It was to make people think.”

The report adds that campus police decided “to disarm him of fake bombs strapped to his body”. Further:

Max Gibson, the San Diego resident who marched in a turban around UCI, e-mailed a campus administrator on May 22 that he was “at UC Irvine campus, and as a young Jewish Republican, I am so, so, so enraged.”

Gibson went on to say that he had “been spit on, received death threats and been insulted heavily this last week.”

In an interview with the Register, Gibson, who is not a UCI student, repeated his allegations that he was spit on and threatened.

Campus police have a different version of the tale, saying that Gibson recanted when asked to discuss the threats.

According to a memo in which Assistant Police Chief Jeff Hutchison recalled the conversation, Gibson said, “I’m really sorry, but I embellished a bit”

“He said that no one had actually threatened his life, but four MSU students told him they would have their friends take care of me,” Hutchinson reported that Gibson told him. “I said, “So you do not believe your life is in danger or that anyone is planning to kill you?” Mr. Gibson replied, “No, no. Not at all.” I asked Mr. Gibson about the spitting incident and he said that the spit from the MSU student’s mouths, who he argued with, would land on him as they argued. I asked him if he wished to file a formal crime report on any of these incidents. He declined to do so.”

Someone who has “embellished a bit” working for Walid Shoebat? I’m shocked.

Belief in Demonized Children Leads to Deaths from Starvation in USA and in UK

Baltimore, USA:

For more than a week, Ria Ramkissoon watched passively as her 1-year-old son wasted away, denied food and water because the older woman she lived with said it was God’s will.

Javon Thompson was possessed by an evil spirit, Ramkissoon was told, because he didn’t say ”Amen” during a mealtime prayer. Javon didn’t talk much, given his age, but he had said ”Amen” before, Ramkissoon testified…

Birmingham, UK:

Seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq weighed less than three stone when she was admitted to hospital in May 2008 where she died from an acute infection that had been brought on by severe malnutrition. 

…Her mother, Angela Gordon, and step-father, Junaid Abuhamza, were charged with murder after police discovered that the pair had routinely denied food to their children as a form of punishment.

…Abuhamza, a schizophrenic who told investigators that he once watched his domineering father beat his sister to death, believed Khyra was possessed by a “jinn”, a type of evil spirit that features prominently in Islamic scripture.

Zimbabwe “Ark of the Covenant” Unveiled

Last year, the Daily Express ran a wonderful headline:

Has Mugabe Stolen the Lost Ark?

According to the paper:

The decayed wooden object ­lying neglected on a shelf in a museum storeroom didn’t look like anything too exciting. But for Tudor Parfitt, Professor of Jewish Studies at London’s School of African and Oriental Studies, its discovery was the culmination of a search that had taken him more than 20 years.

The professor was convinced that this object, which resembled a damaged, ancient African drum, was in fact the lost Ark of the Covenant.

….But now, almost a year later, Parfitt is worried. Since the publication of his book and the broadcast of the documentaries, the whereabouts of his intriguing discovery are once again unknown. Parfitt says he has been told by sources close to family members of the autocratic Zimbabwean president Robert ­Mugabe that the object is now in the possession of one of Mugabe’s relations, perhaps even Mugabe himself.

Parfitt had identified a cult object – the Ngoma Lungundu – belonging to the Lemba, an ethnic group claims Judaic descent (a claim backed by their customs and by DNA evidence). The object was dated to the fourteenth century, but Parfitt suggests it was modelled on an older object. Although it looks far less impressive than the Ark as described in the Bible, Parfitt has an explanation:

…In Deuteronomy Moses describes how he builds the Ark himself out of Shittim wood, now more commonly known as red acacia, a tree that grows on Mount Sinai.

But Exodus suggests that a much more elaborate, golden Ark was built by Bezalel, Moses’s chief architect and craftsman. Parfitt has found other sources in ancient Hebrew Rabbi texts that suggest this more elaborate golden Ark was built later and mostly kept in the Temple, perhaps once the tablets had been transferred into it.

…”The golden one made by Bezalel was ceremonial and was only ever taken to battle once, when disaster befell it and it was captured, as ­described in Samuel.”

Alas for Parfitt, however, Mugabe appears to have been displeased by the suggestion that he’s an Ark thief; the Zimbabwe Standard reports that he declined to attend a ceremony at which the Ngoma Lungundu was unveiled:

The professor at the University of London’s prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies may have raised Mugabe’s ire after accusing him of looting the Ngoma Lungundu from the Museum of Human Sciences two years ago.

…When he made his own inquiries, Parfitt’s sources told him the vessel was no longer in the museum but in the President’s personal treasure chest.

Parfitt said he later learnt that the Mugabes had not taken the object, but for security reasons, it had been placed in a government vault. This was after he had put the allegations in black and white.

“I am sorry for that. I asked the Vice-President (John Nkomo) to facilitate a meeting with the President. I really wanted to say sorry.

“It would also have been good for me to meet him because he is a historian.”

I haven’t read Parfitt’s book, although I did see a TV documentary he made on the subject and I wasn’t quite convinced. Of course the Biblical text, like any other historical document, needs to be assessed critically, but Parfitt’s method of chosing which bits to take literally and which bits to reinterpret seemed rather arbitrary. He rightly points out that it is difficult to imagine desert refugees creating an ornate golden Ark, but were the Israelites ever really desert refugees anyway? I can see how there might have been simple Ark-like object venerated by Israelites in the pre-State period, whether or not there was a historical Moses in the desert, and that this might have been replaced by a far more ornate object when the First Temple was established. But the Lemba trace their history back to Yemen about 2500 years ago – that means that they were Jews who had drifted there during either the Babylonian Exile or later, during the Second Temple Period. That’s centuries after the First Temple had been built; why would they have a unique unembellished tradition about what the Ark was supposed to look like, let alone the object itself? And why is there no account or tradition of Yemenite Jews ever having had either the Ark or a replica?

But these are just amateur musings, and such scepticism is not particularly welcome in Zimbabwe just now; the RFI reports that:

Zimbabwe’s director of National Museums Godfrey Mahachi says that the fact that the relic has been found here places Zimbabwe in a very special position.

Ten years of political turmoil has scared the tourists away, but authorities hope the Ark, and the World Cup in June, could bring them flocking back.

Two fought-over cult objects for the price of one!

Christian Groups vs Culture and Sport Glasgow

Here’s one I missed from last month, via the Times:

Dr Bridget McConnell, head of Culture and Sport Glasgow (CSG), the £100 million charity in charge of the city’s culture, says she is alarmed by what she describes as a “personal witchhunt” against her.

…Since July, when a row broke out over an art exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) featuring homosexuality and religion in which comments were written on a Bible, Dr McConnell — whose organisation funded the exhibition — has been targeted by an organised group of protesters.

…Police are known to be concerned at the targeting of Dr McConnell and on at least one occasion officers had to be called to demonstrations outside the art gallery when staff were “seriously intimidated”. 

Among those objecting to the exhibition are the Roman Catholic Church, a certain “Paul Mansbacher, a fundamentalist Protestant who has been banned from the Free Church of Scotland” and a group called Christian Watch:

On the website set up by Christian Watch, www.csgwatch.com, the protesters state their aim is to stop the city supporting events and programmes that insult Christ, the Bible, Christians and to “have Bridget McConnell removed from her position”.

Mansbacher has a website here, where he poses several questions. It would be superfluous for me to give his answers:

Is Roman Catholicism Truly Christian?
Are Modern Versions the Word of God – or the Work of Satan?
Does Tony Campolo Preach a Biblical Christ?

We’re also urged to read “Evidence from the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” concerning the following:

Thousands of people have reported that they have been abducted by strange beings, and many women report that they have been fertilised and abducted again at a later date when the foetus had been removed. Is the reason that Greys look like overgrown human foetus’ because that is what they are? – human foetus’ extracted from the womb and then cultured to increase their size. These genetically engineered bodies are then inhabited by evil spirits. I do not know – but it is a possibility. However, I do know that the war in heaven will take place and that the world will perceive the result as an extra-terrestrial invasion of the earth. Christians need to be prepared.

As well as having been anathematized by the Free Church of Scotland, Mansbacher is also cast out from Christian Voice; this letter to the English Churchman reveals what happened when Roman Catholics and “ecumenists” showed up at a protest outside the BBC against Jerry Springer: The Opera:

…It was at this point that Rev. Hargreaves arrived. He set up his equipment and proceeded to address our gathering, informing us as to other protests outside various other BBC studios around the country.He then had the audacity to tell us that if the literature that we were handing out did not unite us then we should cease to give it out. Obviously the Roman Catholics had approached him with their complaints…

As far as I knew, the Rev. Hargreaves was there representing “Christian Voice” but it turned out that it was an ecumenical voice.

…The Rev. Hargreaves then moved to another location outside the BBC studios, taking with him the Romanists and other ecumenists. But I’m glad to say some Christians did return to where we were, complaining that the group with the Rev. Hargreaves had a statue of Mary. Shame on the Rev. Hargreaves and those “so called” Christians for compromising in this way!

…Paul Mansbacher, a Christian who stood with us during the whole protest, was apparently put out of membership of Christian Voice because he dared to speak out regarding the disgraceful ecumenical involvement of Christian Voice – so much for ecumenical love.

(Christian Voice is headed by the absurd Stephen Green, whom I last blogged on here; Rev Hargreaves is George “So Macho” Hargreaves, whom I blogged on just a few days ago)

Mansbacher describes himself as a member of Christian Watch, but he’s not part of the organisation’s committee, and the outfit seems concerned solely with the usual preoccupations of Reformed Protestant fundamentalism – giant demon-possessed fetuses masquerading as aliens are not on the agenda (and I’m sure they would repudiate Protocols conspiracy mongering). Christian Watch’s aims include familiar fare such as:

To appropriately lobby our National Government when it threatens the freedom of Christians and lowers biblical standards by the introduction of ungodly legislation.

To lobby against ministers of local churches who openly support godless lifestyles as being acceptable.

To expose dangerous teachings e.g.: The Alpha Course also the so-called ‘manifestations’ of the Toronto Blessing movement.

To identify and oppose those who embrace Roman Catholic principles, and the false doctrine of evolution.

The director of Christian Watch is David Crowter, and the group’s website promotes the sermons of Pastor Ralph Ovadal, of the Pilgrims Covenant Church and Wisconsin Christians United. Ovadal has been compared with Fred Phelps, and in 2003 Crowter attended Overdal’s “International Conference on Homo-Fascism”, in Milwaukee; as noted on Ovadal’s wonderfully Landoveresque website, Crowter spoke alongside Peter LaBarbera of the Illinois Family Institute and Peter Hammond of Frontline Fellowship (I blogged on Hammond, who is based in South Africa, here). According to information on this blog, it was “attended by a little over a dozen people”.

Alas, the audio sermons on Christian Watch’s website do not include Ovadal’s most famous recording; this was made in 2002 during a foray to a nudist beach (fully clothed), where he verbally abused a woman:

News 3 has obtained a surveillance video of the confrontation, showing Ovadal… calling the woman a “heifer” and a “whore,” News 3 reported.

“Women who act like whores (are) called whores,” Ovadal says on the tape. “You’re acting like a barnyard animal. Whore, whore, whore, whore.”

Crowter is involved with a plan to create a Christian Heritage Centre near Birmingham (UK), which is being headed by an American pastor named James Zenker. Zenker runs the UK branch of the Tennessee-based Crown College; he does not appear to share Crowter’s anti-gay focus. Crowter has also spoken alongside Ian Paisley.

Also involved with Christian Watch are Duncan Boyd of the Protestant Truth Society; Anthony Busk, who was Christian Watch’s representative at the March of Repentance (an event blogged by me here); and Michael de Semlyen, author of All Roads Lead to Rome? The Ecumenical Movement?.

In the campaign against McConnell and all her works, Christian Watch has joined forces with Scottish Christians, run by an elderly man named Bob Handyside. Alas, however, Handyside is a member of the Christian Party – making him an ally of the “ecumenist” Rev. Hargreaves!

English Defence League Announces Arrest of Leaders

 

A statement from the English Defence League is doing the rounds:

On Saturday 20th February 2010 Members of the leadership team of the English Defence League were arrested as they traveled to Scotland to support the Scottish Defence League demonstration.

While in custody the team members homes and families homes were raided by police armed with automatic machine guns which terrified the leaderships family which included small children and other older family members. Computer equipment was seized during the 3 hour raid.

Leadership team members were banned from attending any meeting with more than 3 edl members then bailed to return to a police station in Sheffield in the near future…

A video statement has also been released, explaining that “Tommy Robinson”, the EDL’s pseudonymous leader, has been arrested on “racial” charges, and that armed police allegedly raided both his home and that of his parents (the speaker then goes off-topic with an attack on the neo-Nazi Blood & Honour, who are the subject of a new report from the Centre for Social Cohesion and Nothing British). The speaker is standing in front of an upside-down Union Flag, which perhaps is a deliberate sign of distress; why the Indian flag to his left is also upside down is less apparent (thanks to a reader for spotting that).

A further statement adds:

On Saturday 20th February 2010, members of the English Defence League were denied their civil liberties when attempting to join the Scottish Defence League for a peaceful protest in Edinburgh… In the City itself, the Police threatened anyone who attempted to protest with immediate arrest. Meanwhile, far-left so-called ‘anti-fascism’ protesters were allowed to wander the streets without any Police opposition. These same protesters made numerous attempts to attack EDL and SDL supporters, while nearby Police officers turned a blind eye. It is clear that today’s Police actions were politically motivated and that the Police Force as a whole can no longer be considered to be politically neutral. They have chosen their side.

The last EDL rally, at Stoke, a police officer who tripped over was attacked by some EDL members, although others came to his rescue.

Across the Atlantic, Pamela Geller has been inspired to imagine the police coming after her:

Criminalizing anyone who stands up to the brutal and relentless islamisation of Western countries is the next phase in the implementation of sharia law (Islamic law) in the West. The EDL is painted as racist, as the tea partiers are painted as racists. I have seen their efforts. They counter the Islamic supremacism of Europe. The Muslim hordes here and here are protected speech. This is madness.

Who is next? Stephen Gash of SIOE, Anders Gravers (who spoke at my FDI  event at CPAC), Spencer, myself? That’s what’s coming. What a blow to the Europe/UK counter jihad effort.

It looks like Spencer, Gash, Gravers and Geller will have to step up our efforts.

Geller has always supported the EDL – Robert Spencer, however, made angry noises last year when it was suggested that he had been at a dinner in a London restaurant when EDL leaders had shown up (he made it clear that he had left before they appeared).

A Kenyan Jazz Apostle, a News Anchorwoman, and Fake Emails Sent in Benny Hinn’s Name

Here’s an odd one – a famous Kenyan jazz musician named Joseph Hellon heads a church called the Finger of God Ministries, and has recently announced that he intends to run for president. As his running-mate he has named Esther Arunga, a former TV news anchor and lawyer who has recently quit her career and moved into the “church mansion”. Arunga has also ditched her fiancé, a certain Wilson Malaba, claiming he is dishonest.

Now an ex-member of the church has leaked emails supposedly sent to Hellon from Benny Hinn, but which Hinn’s spokesperson says are fraudulent. In these emails, Hellon is instructed to persuade Arunga to leave Malaba and to instead become engaged to a musician named Quincy Timberlake (aka “Fizzle Dogg”), who is an old school friend of Hellon. The emails also claim – presposterously – that Timberlake is a former boyfriend of Whitney Houston (“who wants him back”). Meanwhile, Hellon complains that

…police had visited [his] residence to investigate claims that he was a drug dealer and a pimp running a cult. “My house was searched last week, computers and phones confiscated and I was arrested, spent a night at Kilimani Police Station and later arraigned in court, before getting out on bond,” he said.

Further details are in the Nairobi Star. We learn that

Church members take communion (including wine, bread and salt) twice a day. Hellon was reluctant to comment on the practice saying, “I will not get into details of the dogmatic practices of the church. If you would like to know, come and register.” The newly registered members of the church go through Bible school up to the certificate level, after which they are eligible for baptism by Apostle Hellon.

The church also holds monthly jazz nights, attended by “TV anchors, musicians, models and professionals”.

Hellon’s church does not have a website, but Apostle Hellon has a recently-deleted Facebook page, which can be seen here.

According to this site, Hellon is the originator of “Hellonic Jazz”, which “combines Kenyan-American music with European music”. The site also tells us that it has been promoted in the UK by a certain Damille Timberlake, and that Quincy used to be in a band called “Moya” . Here’s a taste of Hellon and Timberlake in action:

Sevenoaks Church Controversy Highlights Reform’s Views on Gender Roles

This is Kent reports from Sevenoaks, UK: 

TENSIONS were running high at a Sevenoaks church in the second of a controversial two-part sermon on marriage.  

Curate Mark Oden refused to back down after telling wives to be submissive, despite upsetting members of his congregation. Following a defiant service at St Nicholas Church in Rectory Lane on St Valentine’s Day, the Rev Oden claimed he had been “overwhelmed” by support from the congregation, despite admitting his views would be seen by some as “unpalatable”.He sought to redress the balance by saying men should be more considerate toward their wives – from helping around the house to activities in the bedroom…

Oden’s sermon last week created something of a media frenzy, also engulfing the church’s vicar, Angus MacLeay. The Daily Mail reported, quoting Oden:

‘We know marriage is not working. ‘We only need to look at figures – one in four children have divorced parents. Wives, submit to your own husbands.’

 It is understood some women parishioners – and even their husbands – have vowed never to attend the church again.

 Its vicar is Angus MacLeay, 50, a married father of two who is a leading member of the evangelical group Reform, which is opposed to the appointment of women clergy.

…The group has produced a leaflet, called ‘The role of women in the local church’, which uses Biblical quotes to urge them to ‘remain silent’ and telling them ‘wives are to submit to their husbands in everything’.Mr MacLeay, a Scotsman who sometimes wears a kilt to church, said: ‘There are times when the Bible challenges modern society. It recognises that women are fully equal to men, but it also recognises that in certain areas of life they may have different roles…’  

However, on the church’s website, MacLeay claims he and his curate have been misrepresented – and that he does not wear a kilt to church:

…With regard to the two sermons preached on marriage from 1 Peter 3:1-7 by our Curate, Mark Oden, perhaps the best thing to do is to listen to them on our website and make your own assessment. You will find a preacher bending over backwards not to be misunderstood in order that our congregations could try to understand how the Bible encourages marriages to work, which is a message that we desperately need to hear. You will find careful and thoughtful application which recognises the full equality of men and women whilst also being aware from the scriptures of their differing roles and responsibilities. Again, we fully recognise that there will be a variety of legitimate interpretations of this passage but every preacher has to grapple with these texts or they are simply being unfaithful to their primary calling. On a different point another strand of headlines speak of the Rector telling women to be silent and of a leaflet written by him being distributed around the congregation in January. The reality is that I have written no leaflets, nothing has been distributed and no-one has ever told women to be silent… It would take too long to go into the many other factual inaccuracies. They range from the mildly amusing (apparently I wear my kilt to church services) to the downright hostile.

The Reform leaflet on women and the local church can be seen on the Reform website:

The Bible teaches that both men and women are made in the image of God and as a result are equal before Him in terms of their status, dignity and humanity (Gen 1:27)…

Jesus’ attitude to women was revolutionary for His day and clearly upheld the equality of men and women…

Women have a unique contribution to make to the life of the local church but it is not the same as the role of men.

It is this pattern of relationships that is to be modelled in family life and in church family life as God orders His creation to reflect the ordering of relationships within the Godhead itself (1 Cor 11:3). Because of the order and purpose of their creation, wives are to submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church (Eph 5:22-24).

Similarly husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. This is the way God has ordered their relationships with each other and Christian marriage cannot function well without it. Yet this does not mean they are not equal – each of them needs the other to play their part if their marriage is to reflect the way the Lord Jesus Christ relates to His bride, the Church (Eph 5:25-33).

When it comes to roles within the church family, the same pattern of relationships applies. Because of the order and purpose of their creation, men are to have leadership responsibilities that women do not share. It is not appropriate for a woman to teach or have authority over men (1 Tim 2:11-13) although it is entirely appropriate for a woman to teach and train other women (Titus 2:3-5). In fact, there is a role here that is uniquely theirs, as while men can teach the Bible to women, they cannot always model it in practice…

The article ends with a short list of “further reading”; this contains texts produced by those involved with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), including Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, and Women, Creation and the Fall, by Mary Kassian .

Kathryn Joyce discusses these authors and the CBMW in her book Quiverfull, which be browsed on Google Books here (although I’d also recommend buying it). Kathryn, who is a friend of this blog, notes that the Council takes the view that feminism undermines the authority of the Bible. And in relation to  marriage (p.15):

Sensitive to the the appeal of feminism to people concerned about domestic violence and the abuse born out of male dominion of women, Piper and Grudem lay such abuses of power at the foot of feminism at well, arguing that “wife abuse (and husband abuse) have some deep roots in  the failure of parents to teach boys and girls about true masculinity and femininity. The confusion about sexual roles explodes in violent behaviors.” In this way, abusive men, passive men, and gay men could be linked together as sinners failing in their roles as men in a culture that has lost its way.

Kathryn also gives us a quote from Kassian (from a different book from that promoted by Reform), showing how feminism leads to the rejection of God:

Feminism began with a deconstruction of the Judeo-Christian view of womanhood (the right to name self); progressed to the deconstruction of manhood, gender relationships, family/societal structures, and a Judeo-Christian worldview (the right to name the world); and concluded with the concept of a metaphysical pluralism, self-deification, and the rejection of the Judeo-Christian deity (the right to name God). 

Kathryn’s commentary on this:

In other words, by allowing women to delcare for themselves who and what they are, the definition of manhood, the meaning of which complementarians find principally in manhood’s differences from womanhood, comes under attack, as do hierarchical relationships within marriage. Eventually, God’s word and God Himself become an image considered in the eye of the beholder – whatever we want Him to be – and therefore no0 basis for hard and fast rules to live by.

She also highlights Piper’s objection to women having positions of authority in society, as he complains about

Roles [that] might stretch appropriate expressions of femininity beyond the breaking point are roles that strain the personhood of man and woman too far to be appropriate, productive, and healthy for the overall structure of home and society.

This boils down to the notion that women should not take on “masculine” leadership roles over male employees.

Still, it could be worse for the women parishoners of St Nicholas Parish Church; at least their vicar isn’t Mark Driscoll.

The Christian Party and the Alliance for Democracy

A few days ago the Times reported on election campaigning in Barking, concentrating on the efforts of the BNP. However, it also told us that:

A greater concern for Labour is the candidacy of the Rev George Hargreaves, leader of the Christian Party, who has strong links to the big Pentecostalist churches proliferating in the area and who may shave away significant numbers of black voters from Labour.

Hargreaves had been planning to stand in the Western Isles of Scotland, but earlier this month he withdrew due to his wife’s ill-health. I’ve blogged on Hargreaves previously; in the 1980s, before his religious conversion, he wrote the successful camp pop songs So Macho  and Cruising, but he has since become better-known in 2007 for his activism against the Sexual Orientation Regulations. He has also stated that environmental protections against overfishing should be scrapped because there is “a supernatural element in the restoration of fish to our seas”.

Hargreaves is also Deputy Leader of the Alliance for Democracy, which describes itself as

an Anglo-Christian Democratic Alliance of Political Parties in England, Scotland & Wales, set up to fight the corrupt and incompetent “Traditional” UK Political parties in the 2010 General Election.

Its website gives some background:

…Finally it was agreed that the Alliance for Democracy would be led by the English Democrats & Jury Team, the Christian Party and Veritas would have associate/electoral pact status to the Alliance, and United Kingdom First & Popular Alliance decided to withdraw as they would be unlikely to be fielding candidates in the 2010 General Election and were unable to contribute any time or finance to the Alliance.

The  Press Release to formally announce the Alliance for Democracy was issued by the English Democrats & Jury Team on Monday 15 February 2010.

The Leader is Sir Paul Judge, a businessman who has formerly made donations to the Conservative Party and who runs an organisation named “Jury Team”, which encourages independent candidates to run as MPs. Hargreaves used to have a profile listed on the Alliance’s “National Council” page, although he is currently absent; perhaps he has stepped down due to his wife’s illness, but  no explanation is given. Private Eye recently had fun comparing Judge with Hargreaves:

Sir Paul is the leader and Rev Hargreaves deputy leader of the new Alliance – a curious combination. Hargreaves’s party argues for tighter divorce laws, promising to “uphold marriage between one man and one woman for life”. Sir Paul divorced his first wife in 2001…

His conduct in the divorce trampled on another Christian virtue, charity…

… But there are other contradictions in the new marriage of convenience between God and Mammon. Judge claimed last year that his Jury Team represented “politics without parties”, but he is now leading an alliance of not one but six political parties. The only policies on which they seem to agree are withdrawal from the EU, army-style “boot camps” for convicted criminals and an end to immigration.

Details of Judge’s “conduct” during his divorce can be read about in this Daily Mail article.

Ironically, Judge’s Jury Team is endorsed by Martin Bell – who, it might be recalled, in 2001 stood for Parliament in opposition to Eric Pickles. This was because Pickles’ constituency Conservative Party in Brentwood was thought by some to have been too close to a local neo-Pentecostal mega-church run by a man with political views much like those of Hargreaves (this was the since-disgraced Michael Reid, now known to tabloid readers as the “Bonking Bishop of Brentwood”).

One man who is unimpressed with the Alliance for Democracy is Bill Baker, a one-time activist in the English Democrats Party. Blogger Ted Pugh of The Canvey Beat noted in December a comment left by Baker on a news website:

The English Democrats have formed an Alliance with Black Christian groups and have sold out the English voters anyhow. The Idiot Steve Uncles [of the EDP] has told George Hargreaves that they will not contest in Barking and Dagenham area, if the Black Christian party do not contest in Dartford area. very English values indeed and their motto of :Putting England First; seems a bit shot in the foot wouldn’t you say. The English democrat national executive is like any other party executive leadership and all in it for themselves and not to be trusted. Come election time if anyone wants more information of how this alliance was formed please feel free to contact me and I will assist you in exposing the English Democrats for the lie they truly are…

[Uncles] is clearly abandoning the English voters to the Black Christian party in Barking and Dagenham as he thinks they are stronger in Dartford.

A further quote is attributed to Baker on the Democracy Forum, although it is not sourced:

I have resigned from the English Democrats and will be standing as an independent in Barking and Dagenham. I am not in agreement that as an English party the English Democrats should make way for the Christian alliance which is a black church organisation and one of the contentious issues in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. By standing down and making alliances with immigrant led parties, the English Democrats in my view have reneged on their values to put English culture first and are pandering to foriegn influences, in the same manner as the current Lib/Lab/Con. They are also abandoning the English Electorate of Barking and Dagenham who would have no choice other than to vote for the BNP. my intention to stand as an independent is to offer the English voters a non racist alternative, but with strong English values and the promoted values of one law for all. Steve Uncles has done a deal with Black Christians in Barking and Dagenham region that I am in total disagreement with as there are around 200 Nigerian and Black churches in the constituency of Barking and Dagenham and people are concerned about this issue. His deal was they could have free run in the area as long as they left his Dartford constituency alone and I feel this is totally wrong and think his personal ambitions are inhibiting the rest of the party members and activists to work as a team in uniting the electorate behind a single cause. I still believe in the English cause and will not now go back on my promise to the people of Barking that a patriotic non racist alternative to the fascist BNP will be available for them to consider, once the elections come around.

Baker was in the news in August, when he announced plans for a protest outside a mosque in Harrow – which he then called off when he was satisfied that no “shariah court” was being planned for the site (a protest did, though, go ahead, although organised by another group). He also hangs out with Charlie Flowers and his gang of “Cheerleader” cyber-bullies; a few days ago he left a message on their Facebook page with a jocular “hello and hope you aint terrorising everyone to badly”, although this of course does not mean that he knows about their campaigns of harassment. Baker was also recently interviewed by Sunny Hundal here.

UPDATE: A reader directs me to this Facebook page, where Baker rails against Hargreaves as a “foreign interloper” (when in fact there’s no reason to think Hargreaves wasn’t born in the UK; he was was certainly raised in London) and his church as “colonial” because it is supposedly “African funded”. He also explains that the European Union is a conspiracy by “the Soviets” and complains about “Kraut wankers”. He also discusses his past with the BNP:

…Yes there was a leadership challenge on Nick, but I was no part of it although I agreed with the principals of the challenge on democratic principals. After the ;heavy handling of some members and councillors of the BNP, many of us walked away as we knew the radical racist elements and hidden agenda could not be challenged and if you look at the BNP constitution you will see that Nick has written himself in that he can no longer be challenged for the BNP leadership. Since my split and stance on behalf of Barking and Dagenham I have been asked back into the BNP of which I flatly refused due to the unchangeable racist principals. most BNP supporters are not racist and merely seeking alternatives to the current political elite that have ruined the community harmony of our social structures. Some of the hierarchy of the BNP however have intentions that will never allow social cohesion in this country and that is why in its current form the BNP can never be allowed access to political power of any kind. If they do achieve a few seats in the coming elections they will be of no value politically and ostracised by other MP’s, which is why a vote for the BNP will be a wasted vote of protest, no more. I can cite several incidents of political bullying by the BNP of its membership and elected officers but I wont bother as most of them are common knowledge if you go and seek them out yourself.

He also likes to share a joke:

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill: Death for “Serial Offenders”

A blog named Waking Up Now has gone through the fine detail of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. As has been widely reported, the Bill mandates the death penalty for “Aggravated Homosexuality”, which has been understood to mean homosexual rape and the deliberate/reckless spreading of HIV.

It turns out that this is not the whole story: the blog author shows that “Aggravated Homosexuality” also refers to  anyone who is a “serial offender” against any of the provisions in the Bill, which makes it illegal for adults to engage in any homosexual activity, for anyone to facilitate such activity, or for anyone “in authority” (vaguely defined) not to report such activity to the police. Anyone found guilty of committing a second offence of any kind will have committed “Aggravated Homosexuality”.

I looked at some of the religious figures promoting the bill here

Hat tip: Harry’s Place.